Truth, Understanding, Insight

Righteousness of God

2nd June 2013, mgh


1) Introduction: gentiles & the covenant of The Promises

We were asked to think on the phrase 'righteousness of God' (dikaiosunē Theos, δικαιοσυνη θεου). Righteousness (dikaiosunē) according to Strongs comes from the Greek word 'dikaios', equitable (in character or act), from 'dikē' meaning 'right, 'justice' which might be translated as 'judgement'. Strongs thinks 'dikē' might be related 'to show'. All these ideas are related to the sense of right in terms of descisions related to law and discering and acting with even-handed integrity in a situation. When the expression is used of the God of Israel, it is always in a powerful context of judgment.

In Jerusalem Paul and Barnabas had to prove to the Jews that the gospel of the promises had been brought to the gentiles through the command of God. James pointed out to them that at the birth of Jesus (Y'shua), the Messiah, a devout Jew called Simeon had proclaimed that this child was destined to bring salvation to both Jews and Gentiles. On this occasion James states that God was taking “out of them a people for his name.” James directs them to the prophets to confirm that Yahweh was seeking people who would be obedient and faithful and believe the promises to the Patriarchs of Israel. The name 'Yahweh', the name of the God of Israel confirms that his character (holiness/ righteousness) will be revealed in his people, which are those who are called, both Jew and Gentile.

And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: Simeon has declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, said the Lord, who does all these things. (Acts 15: 13-17)

Take a look at Simeon's words from Luke 2.

He came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, “Lord, now let thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.” (Luke 2: 25-32)

The Gentiles, like the Jews, now had access to salavation and to being part of the people for the Name of Yahweh Elohim. But to those 'residue' and 'all people' a standard had been set, and things would be required of them, that they glorify the Name.

The 'right-ness' and truth of the Promises

Righteous is related to 'right' and the concept of right is related to 'truth'. God is described as a God of truth and the writer to the Hebrews states it was impossible for God to lie.

Wherein God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entered into that within the veil; Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. (Hebrews 6:17-20)

Both Jew and Gentile might place faith and have absolute confidence in the Promises to the fathers, and so become heirs to those promises (see more on the promises here). The focus of God's truthfulness and therefore his Righteousness are the promises to the Fathers of Israel. These promises are also to all the heirs by descent and the Gentiles by adoption. To set the context of the phrase 'righteouness of God in the New Testament we examine the Old.